A week in the life

Welcome to a Week in the Life of an occasional spend-all-the-money-in-the-world impulse shopper who sometimes uses a coupon but tries mightily to save money where she can.  Each week (or whenever, because I can’t seem to stay on schedule) I will be sharing a round-up of all the different ways I saved our family money or time.  Or both.  The purpose of this series is to highlight the fact that there are SO many different methods you can use to lower your overall budget that don’t involve mad-crazy coupon shopping.

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Price matching to save time

We just had a new Yoke’s Fresh Market open near our house and I’ve been shopping there quite a bit lately.  I drive right by everyday to drop my son off at preschool so it’s super convenient.  They do run great sales, but their regular shelf prices tend to be higher so it’s not always the most cost effective.

I learned on accident that they will price match competitor’s store coupons that run in their weekly ads.  For most stores (Fred Meyer, Albertsons, Safeway), the store coupons they put in their ads tend to be very quality deals.  For example, Yoke’s was willing to price match these 2-pound bricks of Tillamook cheese that were on coupon in the Fred Meyer ad for just $4.99.  While I do love to share the love and shop at all local stores, sometimes it’s just not in the cards.  If I know a trip to multiple stores is so not going to work that week, this is a fantastic option!

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Lots and lots of meat

More Zaycon Foods!  This time we ordered their fantastic ground beef and split with a friend, which meant we had 20 pounds of beef to repackage and freeze.  At just over $3 per pound, it’s a little higher than we can find on a good sale.  But here’s why I still do it.

It’s delicious.  Consistently delicious.  One short hour or so and I have several packages of beef ready for meals or the freezer, which requires one less trip to the store.  I know. I could find a fantastic sale and run in to buy it at the local grocery store.  Know what happens when I make a trip “just for ground beef”?  I come out with a $60 bill and a cart full of things I didn’t intend to buy.

This saves me time.  And money, because I’m impulsive.

If you haven’t signed up for a Zaycon Foods account, it’s completely free and you will be notified of events in your area.

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Stocking up at a low price point

We usually buy our bananas at Costco for around $.44/pound, but occasionally they go on sale at a local grocery store for $.38/pound.  We go through these like mad crazy apes in our house, so I stock up.  We have filled carts.  People ask questions.

We eat through what we can and then I peel and freeze the rest for green smoothies.  We mostly buy whole foods and it’s rare to find a coupon for these kinds of items, so our best bet to save on our grocery bill is to know a good stock-up price on the items we do buy.  When it’s cheaper than we normally pay, I buy approximately 1,724 pounds.  Or you know, enough to fill a freezer drawer.

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The Hansen Family Calendar

I don’t know about your family, but starting in about February, our spring and summer weekends start to fill up like crazy.  Come June, we’re lucky if we have one spare Sunday afternoon.  This is never intentional and we don’t necessarily plan on filling up every waking hour, it just happens.  There are concerts and baseball games and college football in the fall and Vegas (most likely) and competitions and birthdays and barbecues.

This year, we got smart.  My husband made this fantastic calendar at work and we listed out every planned and possible trip or party we are going to attend for the rest of the year.  I’m not going to pretend like this is saving us a ton of money, doing stuff costs no matter how we try to cut down on costs.  What it is doing is preventing us from double-booking and telling us what we need to buy tickets and hotel reservations for.

For example, we are doing a few races this year where the price goes up if you don’t register by a certain date.  Having them listed on the calendar has forced me to go through and make sure we are signed up and ready to go.  By doing it early, we lock in the lower rate instead of waiting until the last minute and paying WAY too much.

Having it all listed out makes me a little more sane (and just a little more crazy) all at the same time.  Another bonus perk?  We can start lining up childcare when we need it instead of waiting until the last minute.  It also helps with my husband’s work schedule, as he can ask for all these days off in advance.

What local stores in your area do price-matching?  Have you taken advantage?

What is your favorite source to buy quality meat at a low price point?

Do your summers look like our families?  What is your favorite thing on your calendar this year?

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Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. When you click on these links, you are supporting this blog. Thanks!

Welcome to a Week in the Life.  Each week I will be sharing a round-up of all the different ways I saved our family money or time.  Or both.  The purpose of this series is to highlight the fact that there are SO many different methods you can use to lower your overall budget that don’t involve mad-crazy coupon shopping.

Airplane

Shopping around for the best price

Our family is planning a trip to Disneyland in November and we are slowly cobbling together the pieces of our trip.  We found a fantastic deal on a hotel within walking distance of the park and just needed to track down a good price on flights.  I already spend 872 hours a day on the computer, so I didn’t want to waste my entire life trying to save a few pennies.  Instead, I made my search short and concise.

We don’t live in an area with a large airport, so I first did a quick comparison on flying out of our small airport or the two nearest large airports, trying my best to factor in the cost of gas, hotel and parking if we flew out away from home.  Once I decided on our starting point and flight, I started looking at price differences.  I started at Kayak.com, which compares prices across several different airlines and discount travel sites and realized that the flight we were going to take didn’t fluctuate in price much, if at all.

To choose which site we went with, I then headed over to Ebates to see which would offer the highest cash back.  They were all very close, but Orbitz offered $1.80 cash back per flight versus $1.40 for most of the other sites.  Not a huge difference I know, but it might snag me a corn dog once we’re in the park and it only took a few extra seconds.  Once I purchased our tickets, our cash back was deposited in our account within 3 days!

Click here for more tips on saving on airfare.

Be your own champion

In case you don’t know, I make a few pennies running this blog.  Okay, more than a few pennies, but seriously, thank goodness.  I work 984 hours a week on the computer.  It’s like a job and stuff.

Recently, I noticed that one of my commission offers was paying WAY less than they had originally offered.  I quickly emailed the company and stuck to my guns when the first few emails came back with a less-than-helpful answer.  Eventually, after about a month, I received an email stating that they had fixed my tracking snafus and refunded the commission amount I was originally supposed to receive.

Obviously, your situation or your issue won’t be the same as mine.  Hopefully, this is a good reminder to stick up for yourself when you feel something isn’t quite right.  Mine could have easily gone overlooked (and I’m sure I’ve missed some in the past), but I’m thrilled that a few specific emails and knowing what should have been in my account helped me earn what I deserved.

PicMonkey Collage

Recycling our kids’ gear

Once again (and probably for the 6th time), we participated in the twice-yearly Columbia Community Church Children’s Consignment Sale in our area, as both seller and buyer.  This is such a fantastic way to clear out our kids’ clothes that don’t fit anymore or toys they have outgrown and pick up new-to-us stuff for a fraction of the cost.  We sold nearly all of our stuff, with the few items left over donated to Goodwill.

Even though we were selling and hoping to make a little pocket change, I ended up spending a pretty good chunk of our earnings back at the sale.  However, we picked up items that we really needed and would NEVER be able to find in the store for cheap.  We found snow pants for both boys for $5, a full Halloween costume for our younger son for $8, Keen and Converse shoes for less than $2 (!!), several long sleeved shirts for $1, pajama sets for $3 and much, much more.  Before the sale, I quickly went through our boys’ clothes to assess what we needed and so I didn’t buy duplicates.

At this particular sale, 30% of sales goes to local charities and 70% to the consignor.  Without a ton of extra work from me, we made around $150 selling items that were all mostly priced $5 or less.  They had record sales this year, with $10,000 going to local charities!  I’m proud to support that, while clearing out our closets.

Frugal Living NW has put together a fantastic list of consignment sales in the Pacific Northwest and beyond, you are sure to find a sale near you.

I would LOVE to hear how you saved your family money this week!

Questions of the Day:

Are you a shop-around type of person when it comes to travel or more impulsive?

Have you ever participated in a consignment sale? What’s your favorite place to find inexpensive kids’ gear?

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Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. When you click on these links, you are supporting this blog. Thanks!

Welcome to Day Seven and the final update in my new series: A Week in the Life.

Each day this week, I have given you updates on how I spend my time related to saving money in general for our family.  The purpose of this series was to highlight the fact that most of what I do is NOT coupon-related (sometimes not even money-related).  Even if you aren’t clipping coupons or saving big bucks at the grocery store, just by being mindful of your spending and how you are spending your time can be huge.

:: Day One – Feeding the masses and weekly grocery shopping
:: Day Two – Stretching a meal and make ahead snacks
:: Day Three – Oreo cookies, failure into success and meal planning
:: Day Four – Homemade salsa and mad crazy amounts of sausage
:: Day Five – Shopping sales and homemade vs store-bought
:: Day Six - Homemade stock, repurposing leftovers and basketball

So that’s it for the week.  I have shared everything related to saving money that I have done.  I know it may not all be directly money-related, but I tend to look at everything in terms of “How can I do this simpler, more effective, more efficient, less expensive?”.  I put very high value on my time as well, so finding ways to save time is just like saving money in my book.

Now I need your help.

I’ve been doing a version of this series for about a year now and you all seem to really respond to it.  However, I have recently been sharing some of my grocery trips and menu plans and quite a few of you like those as well.

My question to you.

What would you like to see more?  I don’t feel like I have the time to commit to doing two separate weekly posts on this stuff, so would you rather see the basic money-saving tips, grocery shopping trips, meal plans or maybe a combination  of all three?  I want to make sure I’m spending my time wisely and writing things you can relate to and get some use from.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. When you click on these links, you are supporting this blog. Thanks!

I haven’t been able to set aside five seconds to get any freezer cooking done over the last few months, but I do like to try to be as efficient as possible when I am in the kitchen.  It’s pretty rare that I make a single batch of anything.  I like to be able to throw an extra meal or side dish in the freezer, just by doubling the amount of ingredients I am already chopping or measuring. Cleaning up once and eating twice is amazing!

I have also started going to the gym in the afternoon (which I swore to holy heck in a hand basket I would never do), so my time to get dinner on the table is very limited.  It helps so much to be able to pull something quick out of the freezer that isn’t a pizza.

Oven Fries

I picked up two 10-pound bags of russet potatoes at Yoke’s about a month ago for just $.68 each and knew I needed to put them to good use.  I used one entire bag to make a batch of these yummy Oven Fries.  I was able to get three freezer bags of french fries from one bag, which means I paid just $.68 for all of them!

Directions:

Scrub, wash and cut the potatoes into 1/2″ fries.  Toss them with olive oil (or coconut oil if you just love it that much), salt and a pinch or two of sugar.  Spray baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray or olive oil and bake fries in single layer for 20 minutes at 475 degrees.

When fries are cool, flash freeze them on the baking sheet for about 20 minutes.  Place them in labeled freezer bags.  When you are ready to eat, spread on baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes at 450 degrees.

Homemade Crockpot Chicken Stock

I roasted a whole chicken last week and saved the carcass and all the bones (and goopy extras) in the fridge.  I have made chicken stock on the stove top, but wanted to try it in the crockpot this time.  Pretty sure I will never do it any other way.

I threw the carcass, about 4 cups of water (enough to cover), one medium diced onion, three peeled and crushed garlic cloves, a pinch or two of salt and a handful of fresh dill in the crockpot.  Set it on high for five hours (or you could do low for 6-8 hours) and let it sit and sit and sit.

When the stock was done, I scooped out all the solids I could snag and threw the entire pot in the fridge.  The next morning, all the fat had risen to the top and was close to solid, so I just scooped out what I could.  The final step I took was to run the stock through a fine mesh strainer and DONE.  One 4-pound chicken carcass yielded five cups of delicious stock.  Super easy.

Peppermint Fudge Cookies

I LOVE to bake and love handing out cookies and desserts to neighbors, family, my husband’s coworkers.  It seems like there is always something coming up where I need to send dessert or something yummy and I don’t always have the time to throw something together.  This year I got smart.

I was dying to make these Peppermint Fudge Cookies again this year and decided to make a double batch.  I cooked up a few baking sheets of cookies, but then flash froze the rest of the dough.  I rolled it into balls, placed about 1/2″ apart on a baking sheet and froze for about 30 minutes.  After they were done, I threw them in a labeled freezer bag and now I can just pop a few out to bake when needed (or to eat frozen, whatever).  Make one big batch and clean once.  Brilliant.

What do you find helps keep you sane and efficient this time of year?  I’d love to hear your tips and tricks!

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Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. When you click on these links, you are supporting this blog. Thanks!

Each week I will be sharing a round-up of all the different ways I saved our family money.  The purpose of this series is to highlight the fact that there are SO many different methods you can use to lower your overall budget that don’t involve mad-crazy coupon shopping.

I will even be mentioning those methods that may seem insignificant to you.  I truly feel that anything that saves time is saving money in some form or another.

 

 

 

 

Simple Freezer Cooking

While I’ve done my fair share of large-scale freezer cooking, we have just not had the time or energy to focus on anything but moving into our new house and the holidays that are fast approaching.  However, that doesn’t mean that I can’t make a little extra here and there to throw in the freezer for a rainy day.

I made a simple version of these Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Pancakes for my kids a few days ago.  They can’t come close to eating a whole batch, so I threw the rest in a quart-sized freezer bag and will pop them out individually and toss them in the toaster on a busy morning.  Super easy, semi-healthy and my kids love it!  I do this with muffins, waffles, cookies, anything that freezes well.

Recycling in a non-recycling city

We recently moved to a new city that doesn’t offer free curbside recycling like our old one did.  I’ve gotten so used to keeping all of our recyclables that I was a little stumped at first.  It felt just plain wrong to throw them away, but I didn’t want things piling up in the garage.

I ran to Walmart and found these stackable bins for just $6 each.  They barely take up any room and when they get full, I just throw them in the car and stop by one of the many recycle bins in our area (quite a few are on my way to preschool or other errands).  While I know this isn’t necessarily saving money, I feel like we’re doing good things.  Now, I imagine I should have found recycle bins made out of recycled plastic to complete the cycle.

Great Wolf Lodge

We have been wanting to go to Great Wolf Lodge as a family for SO long.  We were finally able to snag a great discount through a recent Living Social deal and, while still expensive, was a significant savings.  It is still a little under a 5-hour drive for us, so we knew we had to find some ways to cut back on what we spent.

Our room had a small fridge and microwave, so I packed a cooler with snacks, fruit, pre-made sandwiches for the boys, salads for my husband and I and some drinks.  Our kids are still of the toddler set, so we were able to pry them away from the slides a few times to get them fed.  There are restaurants on-site and some fast food places in the area, but this saved us a huge chunk of money.  Not to mention, since our kids had been running all day, I wouldn’t imagine they would do so well sitting down for dinner in a restaurant.

There are a few fun free events and activities for the kids, just check their website or ask a concierge when you get there.  If you can swing it, make sure they don’t get you into your room on time and you’ll get a free breakfast.  We lucked out.

While the whole trip was a little more than we would normally spend on a quick getaway, the boys had an AMAZING time.  It is so family and kid-friendly and they have thought of everything.

I would LOVE to hear how you saved your family money this week.  What methods do you find are the most efficient and effective?

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Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. When you click on these links, you are supporting this blog. Thanks!

Each week I will be sharing a round-up of all the different ways I saved our family money.  The purpose of this series is to highlight the fact that there are SO many different methods you can use to lower your overall budget that don’t involve mad-crazy coupon shopping.

I will even be mentioning those methods that may seem insignificant to you.  I truly feel that anything that saves time is saving money in some form or another.

Waiting patiently and anticipating makes everything better

We need a new trash can pretty desperately and while I would have been (mostly) happy running out and picking up the first one I saw that looked pretty, I decided to be semi-frugal.  We purchased a Simple Human can at Bed, Bath & Beyond (the prices were about the same everywhere), but I was able to order a $10 off $30 purchase coupon from Recyclebank with some points I had saved.  No immediate gratification however, I had to wait for it to come in snail mail!  Waiting made it that much sweeter when we actually got our new can and now we are super fancy.  Thank goodness it’s the little things for me.

Utilizing my Fred Meyer Rewards

When you swipe your Fred Meyer Rewards card, you don’t necessarily save any money at check-out, but you rack up points towards gas rewards and they track your purchases.  The more points you get, the better offers you receive in your email inbox and via mail.

I received several personalized offers in the mail about a month ago and have been carrying them around in my purse to keep an eye on prices.  Just by checking quickly at the store, I was able to save a ton of money on things we use all the time.  Here’s how I used my coupons:

Purchased:
(2) Fresh Selections Mushrooms (8 oz) $1.99
Kroger Medium Cheddar Cheese (2 lb) $5.99
Fred Meyer Sour Cream (24 oz) $1.79
Fred Meyer All-Purpose Flour (5 lb) $1.99

Used:
$1.50/2 Fresh Selections Mushrooms Rewards coupon
$.40/1 Fred Meyer Sour Cream Rewards coupon
$.50/1 Fred Meyer Flour Rewards coupon
$1.50 off $7 Dairy Purchase Rewards coupon

Paid $9.85 for everything listed above after my Rewards coupons!

Cheese and sour cream are items we use in our house every day.  I was taking a veggie plate for our weekend in Leavenworth with friends and decided to use the pre-sliced mushrooms instead of picking up an additional vegetable that wasn’t on sale, these worked out to just $1.24 each after coupon.  I generally use whole wheat flour for all of my baking, but when I make cupcakes, I am too chicken to try anything but all-purpose.  I like to have some on hand when the cupcake mood strikes.

If you are a Fred Meyer shopper and do NOT have a Rewards card, sign up right away.  You can sign up in-store with your cashier or at the customer service desk.  For more information about the program, click here.

I would LOVE to hear how you saved your family money this week.  What methods do you find are the most efficient and effective?

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Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. When you click on these links, you are supporting this blog. Thanks!

Each week (each month, each year?) I will be sharing a round-up of all the different ways I saved our family money.  The purpose of this series is to highlight the fact that there are SO many different methods you can use to lower your overall budget that don’t involve mad-crazy coupon shopping.

I will even be mentioning those methods that may seem insignificant to you.  I truly feel that anything that saves time is saving money in some form or another.

I know I’ve gotten away from this series and it’s been for several reasons.  As most of you know, we just went through a LONG process of selling our home and purchasing a new one.  The boys and I lived with my parents for about 3 weeks, commuted an hour and a half to preschool and generally threw the budget out the window.  I couldn’t even find my coupons, let alone find the time to make a plan for a shopping trip.  We paid full price for just about everything and I could barely string together the word budget, let alone actually stick to one.

Now that we are started to get settled, I am really trying to get back into the swing of things.  Moving is definitely an emotional and physical process that takes its toll and some things to have to go in the process.

That being said, here were a few things I attempted this week to get back in money-saving mode:

Shopping from the pantry

We were invited to a housewarming party over the weekend and we had friends over for Monday Night Football dinner (friends who don’t care that we don’t have bar stools for them to sit down and still have boxes in the living room).  I feel like I have spent my life at the stores the past few weeks, whether it be grocery or hardware stores, so I didn’t want to make another unnecessary trip.  I did my best to plan around what we already had in the pantry.

I made chili from ground beef we had in the freezer and extra vegetables we got from a neighbor.  I had extra canned pumpkin (who ever has extra of that?) so I made Pumpkin Snickerdoodles for the party and Pumpkin Brownies for our football dinner.  For a side dish for the party, I made this easy Taco Quinoa Salad (minus the chicken) and just added extra veggies we had on hand.

Slightly misshapen produce?

When I went to pick up a few things at Fred Meyer, they had a whole stand of bags of fruit that were blemished or misshapen.  Misshapen?  Seriously.  People won’t buy fruit that is misshapen?  All the bags were $1 each, including a huge bag of limes, a bag of 3 large bell peppers and a bag of about 6 apples.  Short of a few bruises here and there, the produce was in great shape!  And now I get to make these Corona cupcakes with all the limes.  Happy day in the Hansen house.  And for all my husband’s coworkers upon who I foist extra baked goods.

Inexpensive and eco-friendly mass murder

We had a fruit fly infestation this past week.  No joke, it was the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen.  I was desperate and had seen awhile back on The Coupon Project a fool-proof way to get rid of them with items I have in the pantry.  I just used about 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar with a few drops of dish soap and let it sit in a cup all day.  What ensued was not pretty, but it was effective.  I’ll send you to her site for more details, she should get all the glory for this fabulous tidbit!  I won’t gross you out by showing you a picture either, just know it worked and worked well.

I would LOVE to hear how you saved your family money this week.  What methods do you find are the most efficient and effective?

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Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. When you click on these links, you are supporting this blog. Thanks!

Each week I will be sharing a round-up of all the different ways I saved our family money.  The purpose of this series is to highlight the fact that there are SO many different methods you can use to lower your overall budget that don’t involve mad-crazy coupon shopping.

I will even be mentioning those methods that may seem insignificant to you.  I truly feel that anything that saves time is saving money in some form or another.

Weekly farmer’s market trip

Not only do I love our local farmer’s markets for the fantastic produce, but it’s a pretty fun outing for the boys and I.  They get to hang out and sample fresh fruit and check out all the people and I actually get some shopping done.  I let my 3-year old choose the produce this time and although he never really cares to eat zucchini, that is what he chose.  I snatched up a few more things and made this amazing Roasted Summer Vegetable Pasta with cherry tomatoes from our garden.  Yum.

I got everything in the picture above for just $6 and $3 was for the watermelon!

Loving my Oroweat Bakery Outlet vouchers

I hope that you all picked up some of those amazing 1/2 price vouchers that were available on Sharing Spree recently.  I made my 2nd trip this week and picked up 8 items with my voucher.  I paid $5 for the original voucher plus an additional $.49 at the store, making each item just $.68 each. 2 loaves of 100% Whole Wheat Bread, 4 loaves of Flax & Fiber Bread and 2 packs of Tia Rosa tortillas.  Crazy deal.

Serious substitution

We have a pretty set list of pantry staples and essentials and I try  not to deviate from it too much.  When I end up buying specialty ingredients, I spend more money than I have in the budget and some ends up going to waste.  When I come across something in a recipe that I don’t have, I start Googling substitutions.

Just this week, I substituted 3/4 whole milk and 1/4 half and half for evaporated milk and it worked like a charm.  I also soured whole milk with a little lemon juice to make buttermilk.    I didn’t have to spend extra money on a specialty ingredient and wasn’t left with extra buttermilk or evaporated milk that I may or may not use.

I’ve substituted coconut oil for vegetable and canola oil in several recipes, but never for a solid like butter.  I figured in a recipe full of coconut like German Chocolate Brownies, it would be the perfect tester.  Oh my word.  Fudgy and coconutty and amazing.

I would LOVE to hear how you saved your family money this week.  What methods do you find are the most efficient and effective?

{ 2 comments }

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. When you click on these links, you are supporting this blog. Thanks!

Each week I will be sharing a round-up of all the different ways I saved our family money.  The purpose of this series is to highlight the fact that there are SO many different methods you can use to lower your overall budget that don’t involve mad-crazy coupon shopping.

I will even be mentioning those methods that may seem insignificant to you.  I truly feel that anything that saves time is saving money in some form or another.

Produce coming out our ears

We get our weekly produce from our Community Supported Agriculture program and a weekly pick-up from Fresh Picks WA, but you can never have enough, right?

This was just one of the mini-harvests I got from our garden this week.  The tomatoes are taking off like gang busters and we are on our second round of strawberries!

My boys and I like to spend Wednesday mornings at the Pasco farmer’s market and I swear I only went for fruit.  We ended up with cucumbers, 4 zucchinis for just $1, crookneck squash and rhubarb!  I used the zucchini and squash for these amazing enchiladas I served some friends at a morning playdate and made Raspberry Rhubarb Muffins (obviously made the raspberry swap, but also used almond milk and coconut oil with brown sugar in the crumble instead of white).

Homemade enchilada sauce

For the most part, we have purged our pantry of all boxed and canned foods, so when a recipe calls for enchilada sauce, I have to be creative.  I found this amazing recipe for Homemade Enchilada Sauce that blows the canned stuff out of the water.  If you aren’t quite as crazy about spicy stuff, I would recommend cutting the chili powder in half.

I have honestly found that anything that comes pre-made can be made in your own kitchen, with not much more work.  And the taste difference?  Outrageous on all accounts.

Doing some serious stocking up

We have narrowed down our pantry to what we really eat and really use all the time, regardless of what is “free” or “super cheap”.  When a deal pops up on something we buy all the time no matter what, I jump on it.  I made two trips to Costco this month to pick up my limit on Goldfish crackers.  We buy these at shelf price either way, so buying them with a coupon is fantastic!  These are one of the few prepared snacks we keep in the house, so I’m excited that my pantry looks like this.

This week’s edition of “What Not To Do”

Do NOT under any circumstances, put your beloved salad spinner and colander in the oven.  Seem obvious?

We are in the process of trying to sell our house, which means it needs to be ready to show at any time.  I didn’t have time to wash the dishes before we left, so I threw them in the oven just KNOWING I would remember them.  Here comes dinner time and I’m preheating the oven for dinner.  What is that horrid smell?  OH NO.

Word of advice.  Melted plastic is not the smell that will entice buyers.

I would LOVE to hear how you saved your family money this week.  What methods do you find are the most efficient and effective?

{ 2 comments }

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. When you click on these links, you are supporting this blog. Thanks!

Each week I will be sharing a round-up of all the different ways I saved our family money.  The purpose of this series is to highlight the fact that there are SO many different methods you can use to lower your overall budget that don’t involve mad-crazy coupon shopping.

I will even be mentioning those methods that may seem insignificant to you.  I truly feel that anything that saves time is saving money in some form or another.

Saving the cheese!

I bought a 2 lb brick of cheddar cheese at Costco a month or so ago and noticed this weekend that it was growing a little bit of mold.  It is well within the expiration date, so I’m not sure what happened.  Mold freaks me out a little, but food waste freaks me out even more.

I opened the package, cut off all the edges, top and bottom and shredded the whole brick.

After all the cheese was shredded, I divided it between 3 quart size freezer bags and threw it in the freezer.  Problem solved.  Shredded cheese freezes really well.  If you freeze it in a full block, it will get super crumbly when you defrost.

Homemade popsicles

We were having friends over for a BBQ last weekend, so I decided to pick up some popsicles for the kids at the store.  I’ve never been compelled to look at the ingredients of those “treats” before until now.  Approximately 17,324 ingredients, most of which I could not pronounce.  What?  Why does an ice pop need all that extra junk?

So I got to work.

I macerated some sliced strawberries with a teaspoon of sugar and then blended with about two tablespoons of yogurt.  I froze them in small Tupperware containers with a baby spoon stuck in the middle.

Did my kids enjoy them?  You tell me.

I also tried blending some Greek yogurt, a nectarine and a frozen banana.  These didn’t turn out quite as sweet, but my kids didn’t seem to notice the difference.  A little honey would be good added in as well.

I’m thinking there are a zillion options, recipes, freezing tricks, combinations, you name it.  No Red #40 needed in our house, how about some strawberries for color?  Share your favorite methods or recipes, I’d love to hear!

How did you save your family money or time this week?

{ 1 comment }

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. When you click on these links, you are supporting this blog. Thanks!

Each week I will be sharing a round-up of all the different ways I saved our family money.  The purpose of this series is to highlight the fact that there are SO many different methods you can use to lower your overall budget that don’t involve mad-crazy coupon shopping.

I will even be mentioning those methods that may seem insignificant to you.  I truly feel that anything that saves time is saving money in some form or another.

Saving my sanity

Our youngest son turned 2 this weekend and we had a fun little party for him at the indoor gymnastics place here in Tri-Cities.  Just looking at our busy weekend calendar leading up to the party made me break out into a sweat.  We had an open house/showing at our house on Friday, my husband and I ran in our first 5K Mud Run on Saturday morning and then the party was on Sunday.  I knew if I didn’t do some things to prep in advance, I’d drive myself nuts.

Wednesday afternoon, I made two batches of cupcakes and froze them.  This way, all I would have to do before the party is frost away.  This saved me so much time and quite a bit of anxiety, I’m sure.  (I was already plenty anxious about the Mud Run!)

Quick Albertsons trip

I very rarely shop with coupons at Albertsons anymore, but they are one of the few places that carry the milk we buy, so I had to plan a trip.  I glanced quickly at the match-ups early last week and there were a few deals we would take advantage of.  I was able to get the soy sauce for less than $1 each after catalina savings PLUS saved $2 off the steaks with the coupon from the 6/3 SS insert.  I found a pack of steaks with a store markdown sticker, saving an additional $3.  This made the T-bone steaks just $5.83/lb, perfect for Father’s Day!

The razors were on sale buy one, get one free and Albertsons will accept a buy one, get one free coupon on these types of promos, making both packages free after the coupon from the 6/3 PG insert.  I have been hanging on to a few coupons for free Tribe hummus that I received in the mail and those were BOGO as well, making all four free.  Perfect for my son’s birthday party with the veggie tray I made!

There aren’t a ton of food coupons from the newspaper inserts that we use anymore, but every once in a while the stars align.  We use the soy sauce for this Honey Sauced Chicken that is out of this world.  The majority of the coupons we use from the paper are for toiletries and household items, like the razors.  Since we were going to the store anyway for milk, it was worth it to briefly scan the match ups.  I don’t make special trips anymore to Albertsons for just coupon-shopping, but it makes sense to check what’s out there if you have to go anyway.

Plus, this was the trip that caused the Great Soy Sauce Explosion.  Exciting.

More produce from Fresh Picks WA

This is our 3rd week ordering from Fresh Picks WA, a produce delivery service out of Othello.  Each week I tell myself I probably don’t need another box and then each week I scramble at the last minute to order another because I don’t want to miss out.  This week, I was going to head to the store to pick up some produce on pick-up day anyway, so I decided to go with a box from them instead.

We eat fruit all day long, my husband takes it to work for his snacks and it’s what my boys and I eat for snack.  I decided the Lunch Room Box was perfect.  It came with 12 lbs of apples, 3 lbs of pears, cherries and strawberries.  All for just $22 and no trip to the grocery store.

If you are interested, you can read my initial review here.

I would LOVE to hear how you saved your family money this week.  What methods do you find are the most efficient and effective?

{ 0 comments }

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. When you click on these links, you are supporting this blog. Thanks!

Each week I will be sharing a round-up of all the different ways I saved our family money.  The purpose of this series is to highlight the fact that there are SO many different methods you can use to lower your overall budget that don’t involve mad-crazy coupon shopping.

I will even be mentioning those methods that may seem insignificant to you.  I truly feel that anything that saves time is saving money in some form or another.

Saving Breakfast

Alright, this is probably not going to save me any money.  But it did save my waffles.  When I would make a batch of waffles, I would place the cooked waffles on a plate while I was making the rest.  The heat trapped underneath made them soggy, which always bummed me out.  I realized the last time I made them that I should use a wire tray (like you would use to cool cookies or other baked goods) and they stayed perfectly crisp.

I realize this isn’t mind-blowing and I’m probably the only person in the world that hasn’t figured this out, but it’s been a big moment in our house.

Homemade salad dressing

As part of The Great Food Revolution of 2012, I have been slowly purging the pantry of processed foods and hydrogenated oils.  One of the items we decided to eat our way through before replacing was bottled salad dressing.  I was kind of dreading running out, as it seemed like just one more thing to add to my list.  Was I ever wrong.

Homemade salad dressing is not only amazingly easy (of course, depending on your recipe), but it is much better for you and tastes approximately one million times better.  I have started a Pinterest board for salad dressing recipe ideas and have already found a few favorites.  This Honey Mustard Dressing is amazing, only 4 ingredients and so delicious.  I’ve never seen my kids eat so many vegetables since I gave them this dressing to use as a dip!

I often try to finagle play dates at my friend Dani’s house because she makes me the most amazing lunches.  She passed on this ridiculously delicious salad dressing recipe:

Smoky Chipotle-Balsamic Dressing
(makes 1 1/4 cups)

3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1-2 canned chipotle chiles in Adobo sauce
1 t. sauce from chipotle chiles
1 t. dried oregano
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in the blender or food processor and process until smooth.  Taste and season with additional salt as desired.  Pour into a jar and store in fridge, shake well before serving.

New local produce delivery program

In addition to our weekly CSA produce pick-up, we picked up a box of fresh produce from Fresh Picks WA out of Basin City.  They deliver weekly to Tri-Cities and you can choose either a full fruit box of mixed fruit and vegetables.  I firmly believe having this option will save me money, as it is pre-paid and I don’t have to get my kids out of the car or risk spending more money by going into the grocery store.  Plus, we’re supporting local and it’s super fresh!  Check out my review here.

I would LOVE to hear how you saved your family money this week.  What methods do you find are the most efficient and effective?

{ 4 comments }

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. When you click on these links, you are supporting this blog. Thanks!

Each week I will be sharing a round-up of all the different ways I saved our family money.  The purpose of this series is to highlight the fact that there are SO many different methods you can use to lower your overall budget that don’t involve mad-crazy coupon shopping.

I will even be mentioning those methods that may seem insignificant to you.  I truly feel that anything that saves time is saving money in some form or another.

My inexpensive alternative to cooking spray

While we’ve been trying to cut out canola and other vegetable oils from our diet, it seriously didn’t even occur to me that Pam is made straight from canola oil.  While we don’t use that much when we cook, it still didn’t feel right to me to use it.  Emilie suggested buying this Misto Olive Oil Sprayer from Amazon, at less than $10 it is a very inexpensive alternative.

The only thing I haven’t figured out is what to use when baking or making waffles.  Possibly grease with a little bit of coconut oil?  Any other suggestions?

Accepting my non-craftiness

I really am not that crafty, but I have enjoyed making my boys birthday invitations in the past.  It was on my list to start making them for my youngest son’s 2nd birthday, but these past few months have been nuts.  I started a Birthday Party Pinterest Board a few months ago and stumbled across a super cute design for invitations that I just stored away in the back of my mind.

After starting to develop anxiety about the darn things, I just gave in and admitted I didn’t have time.  I ended up ordering these adorable invites, just $12 for the personalized image and about $5 to print at Target.  $17.  I’m positive I would have spent more than that if I had tried to make them and I definitely would have spent more of my sanity.

Two stock-up trips to Fred Meyer and blowing the grocery budget

Fred Meyer’s Founder’s Day sale has consistently amazing prices on items that our family uses all the time.  I made TWO trips this week to take advantage of all their great sales, but blew the grocery budget a bit in the process.  In both trips, I bought bread, organic strawberries, butter, cranberry juice, cheese and coffee.  All things that can be used quickly or frozen for use down the road.  I felt comfortable dipping into next month’s budget, as we would be buying these things regardless.  I now have 8 loaves of bread in the freezer and about 12 pounds of butter.

Vegas on the cheap (sort of, maybe)

My husband and I spent last weekend in Las Vegas with a few friends and while Vegas will never in my lifetime be considered “cheap” or “frugal” (at least while you’re down there), we managed to save a few dollars by staying ahead of the game.

As soon as we booked our trip, I signed up to receive daily emails from Groupon Las Vegas.  Most of the deals that came through were for things we weren’t interested in, but I found two amazing opportunities.  We ended up purchasing tickets to a club crawl for half the price that allowed us to see 5 different night clubs in 3 different casinos for just $27 each.  This was a fantastic way to do Vegas a little differently and not have to pay an enormous cover charge at each club.  We also found a voucher for dinner for 2, appetizer and pitcher of beer for just $27 at a PLACE WE WERE GOING TO GO ANYWAY.  Did you catch that?  We would have paid full price if we had to.  Score.

It’s totally worth it to check out these daily deal sites if you are going out of town.  We have been able to try out some new restaurants and activities that we wouldn’t have otherwise thought about.  We do tend to try the same old comfortable things when we go to a familiar vacation spot, so this gets us out of our comfort zone.  Plus, when you get home from your trip, just unsubscribe.  Super easy.

I would LOVE to hear how you saved your family money this week.  What methods do you find are the most efficient and effective?

{ 3 comments }

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. When you click on these links, you are supporting this blog. Thanks!

Each week I will be sharing a round-up of all the different ways I saved our family money.  The purpose of this series is to highlight the fact that there are SO many different methods you can use to lower your overall budget that don’t involve mad-crazy coupon shopping.

I will even be mentioning those methods that may seem insignificant to you.  I truly feel that anything that saves time is saving money in some form or another.  This week everything seemed to revolve around food.  But let’s be honest, everything I ever do revolves around food in some form of another, so not much new there.

More homemade coffee creamer

I have been experimenting with different flavors and simmering times to find what we like the best.  I initially made it with half whole milk and half 1/2 and 1/2, but was needing to use quite a bit to get the creamy consistency I like in my coffee.  I decided to switch to all 1/2 and 1/2 (which is cheaper anyway, our whole milk is EXPENSIVE!) and it seems to do the trick.

I realized after the 2nd or 3rd try that the recipe actually calls for adding the extract after you remove the pot from the heat, which definitely makes the flavor stronger.  Imagine, when you follow a recipe and don’t just haphazardly throw things together, it actually turns out right.  Who would have known?

So far from the homemade creamer post, I have made Cinnamon Strudel, Chocolate Almond and Peppermint Mocha.  All delicious.  And no hydrogenated yuckiness in here.  I also just realized she has a Homemade Creamer Part II.  Can’t wait to try the Honey Vanilla!

Post-Microwave Breakfast Success

Oddly enough, after losing our microwave, breakfast has been the biggest challenge.  My husband goes to work early and we’ve been trying to avoid cereals, so it was a bit of a struggle finding him something filling, easy and healthy that didn’t need to be heated.

After a few failed attempts at overnight oats, I think I have found the perfect combination.  He came in the first morning to declare them delicious, so I was pretty happy.  All I do is combine equal parts UNCOOKED steel cut oats, almond milk and plain Greek yogurt in a tupperware dish and leave them in the fridge overnight.  It comes out thick in the morning, with the oats taking on the perfect chewiness.  My boys love it with a little cinnamon and my husband and I crumble homemade protein bars over the top.

I am determined to not replace our microwave.

Freezer cooking and helping out a friend, all rolled into one

My friend’s husband took a new job and had to start early, while she is staying behind with 3 kids and one on the way to try and sell their house.  I knew if it were me, my kids would be eating PB&J for the entire month, so a few friends and I decided to make her some meals she could throw in the freezer for when she wasn’t feeling the whole dinner thing.

While I love to help a friend out (I seriously think food is my love language), I was able to make it work for me as well.  All the meals I made for her, I just doubled and threw one in our own freezer.  It only takes a few extra minutes to make two of one dish, as opposed to making the same dish two different times.  Less mess, less prep, less clean-up.

Here’s what I made for her:

Restarting green onions

I can not be the only person in the world who always lets their green onions get all wilty and destroyed.  No matter how I store them, they always ends up going bad.  I do chop it and flash freeze it when I remember, but I saw recently that you can throw your bulbs in some water and they will regrow?  If this works, it could be the best thing I will have ever learned in my life.  If it doesn’t, they were bad anyway, so now I’m just out a little water.

I would LOVE to hear how you saved your family money this week.  What methods do you find are the most efficient and effective?

{ 9 comments }

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. When you click on these links, you are supporting this blog. Thanks!

Each week I will be sharing a round-up of all the different ways I saved our family money.  The purpose of this series is to highlight the fact that there are SO many different methods you can use to lower your overall budget that don’t involve mad-crazy coupon shopping.

I will even be mentioning those methods that may seem insignificant to you.  I truly feel that anything that saves time is saving money in some form or another.

Monthly Costco run

The beginning of our pay month started on Thursday, so I made a stock-up run to Costco.  We’re actually doing pretty good on most of our pantry essentials, but there were a few things we were running low on.  Generally when I go to Costco, since everything adds up so quickly, I tend to just buy one of each item.  Then I of course end up making a second trip during the month.  I decided to think in terms of the entire month this time, even if it meant spending a little more out of pocket initially.  Hoping (crossing fingers) this will spare me a trip, even if it did give me sticker shock at the register.

On another note, how did I miss that the Kirkland Signature cheddar cheese is just $4.69 for a 2-lb block?  I generally buy the Tillamook at Fred Meyer when it goes on sale, but this is below my stock-up price without having to wait for a sale!  I added it to my stock-up price list.

If you need to plan a trip for May, the current Costco home mailer coupons go through 5/6.

Zaycon Foods pick-up

Some of you may have picked up chicken from Zaycon Foods this time around, but we were pretty well stocked in our freezer.  I did pick up bacon, however, which means we have now had this Sweet n’ Spicy Chicken twice in the last week.  I didn’t order the bacon the first few times they offered it, because it felt a bit like a luxury that we just didn’t “need”.  However, it’s a great price without multiple trips to the store and a little bit of bacon goes a LONG way.  For example, if we’re making pizza and don’t have any sausage or ground beef to put on top, I just crumble 1-2 pieces of cooked bacon on top and it gives such great flavor!

April showers bring.

Flowers and vegetables and make this girl giddy with delight.  We spent some serious time in the last week or so prepping our raised beds and starting to get things planted.  If you missed my first gardening update, you can read it here.  Even after this went up, I have planted and planted and planted some more. I ran out of space in the beds so have been filling every container in site.  I am a total novice at this, but feel that if I can even make one darn salad out of my garden this year, I’ve been successful.  Look for another update soon, I have lots of little sprouts!

I would LOVE to hear how you saved your family money this week.  What methods do you find are the most efficient and effective?

{ 6 comments }

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. When you click on these links, you are supporting this blog. Thanks!

Each week I will be sharing a round-up of all the different ways I saved our family money.  The purpose of this series is to highlight the fact that there are SO many different methods you can use to lower your overall budget that don’t involve mad-crazy coupon shopping.

I will even be mentioning those methods that may seem insignificant to you.  I truly feel that anything that saves time is saving money in some form or another.

Freezer Cooking

I have done just about every form of freezer cooking there is: Full days, half days, meal swaps, doubling recipes, you name it.  Since it is so close to a Zaycon Foods pick-up date, I decided to work up a VERY basic and easy freezer cooking session using primarily chicken.  I made four fairly simple recipes that should be an easy jump start to your chicken prep.  All the recipes took me about an hour and a half of prep time and I ended up with about 6 dinners and 2 lunches for my husband to take to work.

Homemade Protein Bars

We have approximately one zillion granola bars in our pantry that we bought before our official decision to give up high fructose corn syrup.  We are half-heartedly attempting to go through them, but it’s not working that well.  I have been looking into easy high-protein breakfast options for my husband and myself.

My friend Sarah sent me this fantastic recipe for Clean Eating Protein Bars and they are a hit.  I used maple syrup instead of honey, coconut oil instead of applesauce, flax seeds instead of chia and cinnamon chips instead of chocolate.  They are dense and chewy and have crazy good flavor.  I found a great combination for Overnight Steel Cut Oats (almond milk, yogurt and steel cut oats in the fridge overnight) and with one of these protein bars crumbled over top?  Heaven.  With the ingredients that go in these, I’m pretty sure they aren’t saving us money, but they are better for us and more filling than your traditional breakfast option.

Why does my mind do these things?

We have been living in the House of Snot the past two weeks and I ran out of travel-sized Kleenex.  Even though I have 72 full-sized boxes in our linen closet, I immediately decided I needed to run to the store to buy a travel-sized pack. What?  It took me about 30 seconds before realizing I could just shove some Kleenex from the big box in a sandwich bag to carry in my purse.  Better yet, I used one of these reusable Re-pac snack bags.

I guess I think that as long as I’ve been attempting a frugal lifestyle and watching our pennies, that my mind would have instantly gone to the least expensive option.  Why do I still rely so heavily on things that are packaged for me?

In case you missed it, we also bid adieu to our dear microwave and decided not to replace it.  Extra counter space, check.  Freedom from just one more appliance, check.  Money saved, check.

I would LOVE to hear how you saved your family money this week.  What methods do you find are the most efficient and effective?

{ 1 comment }

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. When you click on these links, you are supporting this blog. Thanks!

To Microwave or Not to Microwave

April 19, 2012

Each week, I have been sharing different methods that our family uses to save money.  The purpose of this is to highlight the fact that there are so many ways to save that aren’t based around coupons or racing to the store to pick up the Next. Big. Deal.  While this week was no exception, […]

Read the full article →

A slightly boring week in the life of a fairly average couponer

April 16, 2012

Each week I will be sharing a round-up of all the different ways I saved our family money.  The purpose of this series is to highlight the fact that there are SO many different methods you can use to lower your overall budget that don’t involve mad-crazy coupon shopping. I will even be mentioning those […]

Read the full article →

A slightly boring week in the life of a fairly average couponer

February 26, 2012

Each week I will be sharing a round-up of all the different ways I saved our family money.  The purpose of this series is to highlight the fact that there are SO many different methods you can use to lower your overall budget that don’t involve mad-crazy coupon shopping. I will even be mentioning those […]

Read the full article →

A slightly boring week in the life of a fairly average couponer

February 13, 2012

Each week I will be sharing a round-up of all the different ways I saved our family money.  The purpose of this series is to highlight the fact that there are SO many different methods you can use to lower your overall budget that don’t involve mad-crazy coupon shopping. I will even be mentioning those […]

Read the full article →

A slightly boring week in the life of a fairly average couponer

February 5, 2012

Each week I will be sharing a round-up of all the different ways I saved our family money.  The purpose of this series is to highlight the fact that there are SO many different methods you can use to lower your overall budget that don’t involve mad-crazy coupon shopping. I will even be mentioning those […]

Read the full article →

A slightly boring week in the life of a fairly average couponer

January 30, 2012

Each week I will be sharing a round-up of all the different ways I saved our family money.  The purpose of this series is to highlight the fact that there are SO many different methods you can use to lower your overall budget that don’t involve mad-crazy coupon shopping. I will even be mentioning those […]

Read the full article →

A slightly boring week in the life of a fairly average couponer

January 23, 2012

Each week I will be sharing a round-up of all the different ways I saved our family money.  The purpose of this series is to highlight the fact that there are SO many different methods you can use to lower your overall budget that don’t involve mad-crazy coupon shopping. I will even be mentioning those […]

Read the full article →

A slightly boring week in the life of a fairly average couponer

January 16, 2012

Each week I will be sharing a round-up of all the different ways I saved our family money.  The purpose of this series is to highlight the fact that there are SO many different methods you can use to lower your overall budget that don’t involve mad-crazy coupon shopping. I will even be mentioning those […]

Read the full article →

A slightly boring week in the life of a fairly average couponer

January 9, 2012

Welcome to the first 2012 edition of my “Week in the Life” series! Each week I will be sharing a round-up of all the different ways I saved our family money.  The purpose of this series is to highlight the fact that there are SO many different methods you can use to lower your overall […]

Read the full article →

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